The finalists of the 2005 5.11 Challenge elected to donate their prizes, amounting to more than $175,000 worth of gear, weapons, and apparel, to agencies devastated by the recent Gulf hurricanes. To match this generosity, the sponsors of the annual law enforcement shooting competition have agreed to provide the hurricane-ravaged agencies with an additional $350,000 worth of products.
Bill Berry, coordinator of the 5.11 Challenge, says that even though the three teams of finalists had agreed to donate their prizes in advance of the championship, the competition was still intense. “Just like last year, these officers were not shooting for prizes; they were shooting for pride,” Berry says.
Throughout July and August, two-officer teams from 32 agencies traveled all-expenses paid to 5.11 Tactical’s Montana lodge to compete in the Challenge. The Challenge, now in its second year, tests the officers’ skills with handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Competitors fire a combat course that requires them to draw and shoot, move and shoot, shoot at moving targets, and shoot at targets from behind cover.
The three finalist teams for the 2005 Challenge were the Walla Walla (Wash.) Police Department, the Tucson (Ariz.) Police Department, and the Las Vegas office of the U.S. Probation Department.
After the first two stages of the competition, the Tucson team, consisting of Officer Lee Souter and Officer Robert Callan, had gained a lead. By the end of the day, Souter and Callan had a combined score of more than 2,800 points. Souter shot the highest individual score of the entire competition, racking up 1,470 points in the finals. The U.S. Probation team finished second, and the Walla Wall team finished third.
As the winner, the Tucson team could have claimed a prize of $100,000 of weapons, gear, and apparel for the Tucson PD. However, a department spokesman says it was happy to donate the winnings to the hurricane-stricken agencies in the Gulf. “We hope to be able to outfit the guys who really need help,” says Capt. Brett Klein of the Tucson PD. “Our guys did a great job of representing our department. The least we can do is give back to those officers who have lost so much.” The U.S. Probation team is donating its second prize of $50,000 worth of products, and the Walla Walla team is donating its prize of $25,000 worth of products.
Berry says that finding the right agencies for the donations was very important to the agencies that participated in the finals. “When we approached the competitors about donating their prizes, each one of them got back to me and said that was a great idea. But they were concerned that the donations should go to the right people.”
Some of the agencies that will receive the donations include six coastal Mississippi police departments: Pass Christian, Waveland, Long Beach, Bay St. Louis, Ocean Springs, and Pascagoula. Other beneficiaries will include: the St. Bernard Parish (La.) Sheriff’s Office, the Port Arthur (Texas) Police Department, and U.S. Probation Department offices in New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss.
Berry says that the gear, equipment, and apparel that will be distributed to these agencies includes: 30 Remington 870 shotguns, 20 Remington 7615 patrol rifles, three Aimpoint scopes, and hundreds of Buck knives, ESS Shooting Glasses, Bianchi International holsters, Blackhawk gear bags, 5.11 Tactical uniform pants and shirts, Streamlight flash-lights, and Camelbak hydration systems. In addition, 5.11 Tactical is donating apparel to the Emergency Medical Services in New Orleans.
For more information about the 5.11 Challenge, including how to compete in the 2006 competition, go to www.511challenge.com.